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Yankees history: The first deadline-day trade

The Yankees were one of the reasons for the trade deadline creation, but their first swap didn’t go great.

Colorado Rockies v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The 2019 trade deadline was a bit of a boring one for the Yankees. They made just one trade, acquiring a 20-year old pitcher who’s still a ways off sniffing the major leagues. However, it isn’t like that most years.

An MLB-wide trade deadline was put into effect in 1923. In the wake of the Babe Ruth sale, several AL teams had become fed up with the Yankees’ consistent trading with the Red Sox and White Sox, who were allied with each other in a feud against AL president Ban Johnson.

In 1922, the Yankees and Red Sox made a mid-season deal that saw Boston send outfielder Joe Dugan to New York. Dugan had only come to the Red Sox prior to the 1922 season, and the speculation seemed to be that Boston only acquired him to then flip him to the Yankees. Dugan then helped the Yankees surge past the St. Louis Browns down the stretch to win the AL crown.

Meanwhile, a similar situation was playing out in the National League. Over there, a number of mid-season acquisitions by the New York Giants in 1921 saw them overtake the Pirates to go to the World Series. The annoyance from teams across the league saw commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis agree to institute a June 15 deadline for mid-season trades.

In 1923, the Yankees didn’t make any deals near or on that date on the way to their first ever World Series championship. However the following season, they did get a deal done in time.

Pitcher Cliff Markle had made his major league debut with the Yankees back in 1915. Over the course of the next two seasons, he pitched in 14 games. His 1915 was successful, throwing two complete games and putting up a 0.39 ERA. The next year was not as good, as he walked 31 batters in 45.2 innings and put up an ERA over four. He spent the next couple years in the Yankees’ organization, but in the minors. He was eventually sold to Salt Lake City of the PCL in March 1919.

He moved to a team in Atlanta in 1920 which is where he got back on the major league radar. The Reds picked him up, and he spent the next two seasons splitting time between the majors and minors. He put up about league average numbers, and wasn’t retained. For the 1923 season, he moved to the St. Paul Saints of the American Association. He put up an impressive season there, winning 25 games.

Markle was putting up another impressive season with St. Paul in 1924. The Yankees decided they needed some pitching help, and right before the deadline brought back their former player for three players to be named later.

His second stint in New York was much worse than his first. After allowing a run in 4.2 innings against the Senators on June 23rd, he gave up 14 (11 earned) in a combined eight innings in his next two appearances. After seven games with the Yankees in 1924, he finished the season with an 8.87 ERA. Barely a month after they got him, the Yankees sold him right back to St. Paul.

The Yankees have done some good deadline-day deals over the years. Their first wasn’t good.